From slavery to ministry, Jehu Jones


Cornerstone
Date: 
Mon, 1786-09-04

*The birth of Jehu Jones, Jr. in 1786 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black slave and minister.

From Charleston, SC, he was named after his father, Jehu, Sr., a tailor who gained his freedom in 1798 and later owned an exclusive hotel in Charleston. Originally connected with the Episcopal Church, the younger Jones became a member of St. John's Lutheran Church in Charleston in the 1820s. Twelve years later, Jones was ordained in 1832. This was performed through the New York Synod of the Lutheran Church. Jones then became a missionary to Liberia to accompany freed slaves to that African nation. Jones came back to Charleston after his ordination, and was jailed briefly for violating South Carolina's law prohibiting the immigration of free Blacks.

Jones eventually settled in Philadelphia, the largest city in the country at that time. In June, 1833, the Pennsylvania Ministry determined that Jones be appointed "to labor as a Missionary... among the colored people in Philadelphia under the direction of our Ministers." On February 16, 1834, the St. Paul's congregation he had founded in Philadelphia decided to build a church and to solicit support from other Lutheran congregations. In June of that year, he purchased two lots on Quince Street in Philadelphia for the church.

Assisted by Pastors Philip Mayer of Philadelphia and Benjamin Keller of St. Michael's Church in Germantown, Jones laid the cornerstone (see image) for the building (only recently identified to be still standing at 310 South Quince Street). The congregation paid nearly 40 percent of the costs by the time the building was dedicated in 1836. Because the rest of the funding (about $1,300) wasn't obtained, the building was sold at a sheriff's auction in 1839. Jones continued to serve the congregation until 1851.

Throughout his Philadelphia career, Jones was active in the social and political life of the city. In 1845, he organized a convention at Temperance Hall with the intent of uniting free Blacks to petition local authorities for civil rights. He and members of St. Paul's were active in the Moral Reform and Improvement Society, an association of African American Churches in the city dedicated to improving the social conditions of the black community. Jehu Jones died in 1852.

Reference:
An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage
by Marvin Andrew McMickle
Judson Press, Copyright 2002
ISBN 0-817014-02-0

Person / name: 

Jones, Jehu